New York Film Festival 2015: Films to See, Films to Avoid [roundup]

NYFF53 New York Film Festival 2015
Written by Cole Smithey

Our renowned movie critic Cole Smithey’s take on the best and worst feature films and documentaries playing at New York Film Festival 53. Check out clips and reviews right here.

aNewDomaincole-smithey — I’m here in New York City covering the 2015 New York Film Festival (NYFF53). As with any film festival, there are must-see films, sure bets and movies you definitely want to avoid. Here are my picks in each of those categories — and you can see clips and get more complete reviews in the video embedded below.

The New York Film Festival 53 runs from Sept. 25, 2015 to October 11, 2015.

These are the NYFF53 films you absolutely must see:

carol nyff53 new york film festival 2015“Carol” (Todd Haynes) — A woman working as a store clerk in 1950s New York City falls for a married woman. In this, “Carol” is an opposite sex companion piece to Haynes’ 50s-era homosexual drama “Far from Heaven.”

“DePalma” (Noah Baumbach, Jake Paltrow) — Captures the life and times of Brian DePalma, the director of such dark classics as “Carrie” and “Scarface.” “DePalma” is a fascinating documentary all filmophiles will soon consider to be essential watching.

“In the Shadow of Women” (Philippe Garrel) — This French romantic film is all about adultery. “In the Shadow of Women” follows a poor documentary maker and his lovers.

where to invade next michael moore new york film festival 2015 nyff53“My Golden Days” (Arnaud Desplechin) — Follows three decades of the film director’s early life in Tajikistan, tracing the madness, the parties and the betrayal he encountered there. “My Golden Days” will haunt you.

“Where to Invade Next” (Michael Moore) — In his latest documentary, Moore examines the U.S. government’s permanent wars and the ravaging effect they continue to have on its citizens. “Where to Invade Next” is classic Michael Moore.

“Son of Saul” (László Nemes) — The story of a Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz, charged with ushering fellow Jewish prisoners into Nazi gas chambers, “Son of Saul” is an emotional tour-de-force.

“The Assassin” (Hsiao-Hsien Hou) — Set in Tang Dynasty China, Nie Yinniang is an assassin who must decide whether to end the life of the man she loves or give up the Order of the Assassin to which she belongs.

new york film festival 2015 nyff53 the assassin “Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words (Stig Björkman) — A captivating look behind the scenes of the remarkable life of Bergman, tracing her transformation from a young Swedish girl to one of the greatest and most celebrated actresses in cinematic history.

“Miles Ahead”  (Don Cheadle— An exploration into the life and music of Miles Davis, the biopic “Miles Ahead” is also a celebration of that man and his art.

And any of these films is a sure bet:

“Bridge of Spies” (Steven Spielberg) — Starring Tom Hanks, Alan Alda and Amy Ryan, this is a  Cold War-era tale about exchange of prisoners between East and West Germany. “Bridge of Spies” is making its world debut here at NYFF53.New York Film Festival 2015 Miles ahead Miles Davis movie 2015

“Steve Jobs” (Danny Boyle) — Even if you feel you can’t bear watching anything else about the late Apple co-founder, you’ll still find “Steve Jobs” a worthwhile look at the personalities and struggles working behind three major Apple launches. And yes, this is the one starring Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet and Seth Rogen.

“Mia Madre” (Nanni Moretti) —  This film follows Margherita, who is reeling from the loss of her mother. “Mia Madre” is a fine portrayal, in the end, of a true existential crisis.

“The Treasure” (Corneliu Porumboiu) — Part social satire, part heroic journey, “The Treasure” is about a father who finds himself searching for buried treasure. Irony and a certain quirkly sense of humor endear this film.

“Chevalier” (Athina Rachel Tsangari) — Six men on a fishing trip in the Aegean Sea decide to play a game. On that luxury yacht, things happen that you can’t possibly imagine. More to the point, in “Chevalier,” the male ego gets the beating it apparently deserves. 

But definitely avoid these three films:arabian nights new york film festival 2015 nyff 53 nyff53

“The Lobster” (Yorgos Lanthimos) — One of those avante garde films that makes you mad that you bought into the hype, “The Lobster” supposes that someday single people will be forced to find a mate within 45 days or be turned into a beast. This one’s awful. Don’t do it. 

“The Arabian Nights” (Miguel Gomes) — This three-part take on 1001 Arabian Nights is a six-hour snoozefest. I could explain why people made such a big deal about “The Arabian Nights” in Cannes earlier this year, but I won’t waste your time. Just stay away from this stinker.

“Microbe & Gasoline” (Michel Gondry) — The story of two young friends who roadtrip across France in a vehicle they built for themselves, “Microbe & Gasoline” was directed by the notorious French schlockmeister Michel Gondry. It’s long and insipid. Skip it.

Check out my video below — it’s a special version of my show, Movie Week with Cole Smithey, here on aNewDomain. You’ll find more clips from all the films in this roundup and tons and tons of other clips.

For aNewDomain, I’m Cole Smithey.